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Chocolate Workshop


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Image Credit Joyus Health


By Sharon Fernie


Even though both Ceremonial Cacao and Chocolate are made from the same basic ingredient; Cacao, they are absolutely not the same thing!

There are some very important key differences in the way that chocolate and ceremonial cacao are grown, harvested, processed and used which result in different flavour profiles, textures, quality and it’s health benefits. But not just this, also in terms of their cultural and ethical implications, chocolate and ceremonial cacao are worlds apart.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into understanding the differences between the two:


Both Ceremonial Cacao and chocolate come from the cacao tree (Theobroma Cacao). However, not all Theobroma cacao is the same.

There are 3 main variaties of Theobroma cacao:

  1. Criollo : This name means “native” and is an ancient high quality, upper Amazonian, pure strain of cacao

  2. Forestero : This name means “foreign.” These beans are commonly referred to as bulk cocoa. They are the most widely produced variety in the world, contributing to almost 80 -85% of the world cacao produce which is mainly in West- Africa today

  3. Trinitario : This name comes from cacao breeding activities originally developed in Trinidad and Tobago, where significant research into cacao genetics, cultivation, and processing has been conducted. The term “Trinitario” loosely refers to hybridized Criollo and “Forastero” cacao genetics

  4. Chocolate is generally made from the low quality cacao variety Forestero, whilst ceremonial cacao is usually from the ancient high “Criollo” variety

One of the main differences between ceremonial cacao and chocolate is the way they are grown and harvested. Ceremonial cacao is typically grown in small scale by farmers in indigenous communities, using ancient, traditional and sustainable farming methods. The farmers are paid above the market value for their sacred cacao beans, which allows them to support their families and communities.

Chocolate, on the other hand, is often produced in larger scale, industrial farms, which may use synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, and may not be grown using sustainable traditional methods. Additionally, the cacao farmers who grow the cacao beans for chocolate often receive low prices for their beans, which may not be enough to support their families and communities


CUATRO MANOS Y CINCO VOLCANES cacao is made for ceremony in a sustainable and prayerful way. All cacao tempered from cacao paste.


Cacao paste is made from the whole cacao bean. Compared to cacao powder, which has been defatted, cacao paste is typically 50% cacao butter.


Ceremonial cacao is made with cacao paste, because cacao butter is the best carrier for the beneficial compounds in cacao. This means that our bodies are able to absorb more of the nutrients.


Cacao paste is made from high quality cacao beans that have been fermented, dried, lightly roasted, cracked and winnow, ground, conched, and tempered.


An other very important difference is the soil where the cacao grows. Cacao thrives in biodiversity and is the happiest in the shades of other big trees. Ceremonial cacao is always organically grown on the “sacred” lands of indigenous nations that honour cacao as a potent and sacred plant medicine. They live in perfect harmony with nature and aks permission to the spirit world before harvesting from their sacred lands.

The cacao production for chocolate is laking the spiritual aspects and is grown in monoculture and spread with pesticides to keep yield high all year round.

While both chocolate and ceremonial cacao are made from cacao beans, they are processed differently and have different flavour profiles, additives, and uses:


Chocolate is typically sweet and has a rich, creamy flavor and aroma, due to the addition of sugar and cocoa butter.

Ceremonial cacao is typically unsweetened and has a more bitter, earthy flavor and aroma. However this depands greatly on the type of cacao being used and which are it is grown. As cacaoo flourishes in biodiversity. the soil around the tree absorbs many diffrent aromas from its sourandings. Generally Criollo which is the most native cacao variarty is richer in its aroma’s


Chocolate may contain a variety of additives, such as milk, sugar, flavors, and emulsifiers, which are added to create different flavors and textures.

Ceremonial cacao, on the other hand, is made only with cacao and water or plant milk, and may include a small amount of spices for extra health benefits.



Another difference is the way ceremonial cacao and chocolate are consumed.

Ceremonial cacao is often consumed in a ceremonial or ritual context, which can give it a deeper spiritual and cultural significance. It is used in many indigenous cultures for its spiritual and energetic properties and used to enhance optimal health and wellbeing (physically, emotionally and spiritually)

Chocolate on the other hand is a common commercial product, typically consumed as a unhealthy treat or a snack.

Both ceremonial cacao and chocolate are made from cacao beans, which are a source of a number of health-promoting compounds, including antioxidants, flavonoids, and minerals. However, there are some key differences in the health benefits of ceremonial cacao and chocolate, due to differences in the way that they are processed and the ingredients that are used.

Read more about ceremonial cacao and the industry

Start your ceremonial cacao journey

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